Depressing but important research: The graduation rate for black male students in the 2007/2008 school year was a lousy 47 percent. And half of all states had black male graduation rates below the overall national average. This data comes from the Schott Foundation for Public Education’s most recent report on how well schools are doing in educating black men. ColorLines’ publisher, the Applied Research Center, produced the video above explaining the Schott report’s overall findings. (Disclosure: The Schott Foundation is among ARC’s funders.)
You can look up data for your own state online. Sadly, New York City boasts both the largest black male enrollment and one the nation’s worst black male graduation rates: 28 percent. The report also highlights school systems that are doing a better job and draws some lessons from those examples. What’s the big picture diagnosis? Here’s how Schott sums up the problem schools need to tackle:
Stacks of research reports have indicated for years that Black male students are not given the same opportunities to participate in classes offering enriched educational offerings. They are more frequently inappropriately removed from the general education classroom due to misclassifications by the Special Education policies and practices. They are punished more severely for the same infractions as their White peers. On average, more than twice as many White male students are given the extra resources of gifted and talented programs by their schools as Black male students. Advanced Placement classes enroll only token numbers of Black male students, despite The College Board urging that schools open these classes to all who may benefit. In districts with selective, college-preparatory high schools, it is not uncommon to find virtually no Black male students in those schools. Finally, the national percentage of Black male students enrolled at each stage of schooling declines from middle school through graduate degree programs.
Simply stated, the message in Yes We Can is that Black male students can achieve high outcomes—states, districts and communities can create the conditions in which all students have an opportunity to learn— the tragedy is, even against the historic backdrop of the U.S. having a Black male President, most states and districts in the U.S. choose not to do so.